Thursday, May 21, 2009

Music Library: Clancy Eccles, Clarence "Tom" Ashley, The Clash

Clancy Eccles - Freedom: The Anthology 1967-73. Clancy Eccles was one of the major producers of rocksteady, the Jamaican music style that built on ska and soon developed into reggae. Besides being an accomplished singer and producer, Eccles had deep political beliefs in the healing power of socialism, and he practiced what he preached, lending his voice to the cause, both political and interpersonal. Eccles helped Lee "Scratch" Perry set up his studio and did everything he could to help his fellow Jamaican musicians gain prominence during the 70s. He also apparently coined the term "reggae" from the slang term "streggae," which referred to a lady of easy reputation. This anthology, released by the amazing Trojan label, is uniformly excellent.

Clarence "Tom" Ashley - "House Carpenter." Ashley was a folksinger from the blackface tradition playing songs older than the hills. He recorded some tunes in the 20s (when he was already in his 30s) and gaines some later fame when Harry Smith included some of his tracks on the enormous and enormously influential Anthology of American Folk Music, which, sadly, I don't have. This song, "The House Carpenter," is also older than the hills, old enough to be a Childe Ballad.

The Clash - The Clash (UK), Give 'Em Enough Rope, The Clash (US), London Calling, Sandinista!, Combat Rock, and The Singles. By their third album (fourth, if you count the US version of their debut as a separate album), The Clash were less a punk band than one of the great rock outfits, dabbling in multiple styles with infectious energy and surprising pop hooks. But you know this about the Clash. What I'm calling The Clash (US) is just the 5 tracks that weren't on the UK version, which was released two years prior, plus the superior reworking of "White Riot." What I'm calling The Singles is the one track that doesn't appear on any of the studio albums plus two radio cuts. And I don't really have that much to say about The Clash, because everything one could conceivably say has all been said before - and better.


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